Filling in the gaps: December in Cardston

NOTE: This was a “guest” post written by [the other guy], so he refers here to his experiences having lived in the area.  – Paul 

I understand that I am supposed to be filling in the gaps.  Gaps like spending the month of December in Leavitt and then driving over the Rocky Mountains in January.

We arrived in Leavitt around 11pm December 2.  It had been an extra long day of driving and just as the end of the road was near we experienced the mysterious fogging mirrors.  We had stopped for fuel just outside of Lethbridge and there was a light fog but as we entered the city the fog thickened.  Visibility was poor and we were looking to find a turnoff to the highway to go to Cardston.  Minutes before we were to change lanes to turn I noticed that the rear view mirrors had all iced over and I couldn’t see a thing behind or beside us.

Driving a 30 foot motorhome through the city is hard enough but without mirrors it’s darn near impossible.  I didn’t dare change lanes so we just followed the road we were on until we were able to safely pull over to the side of the road.  It just so happened the first safe spot to pull over was completely on the other side of Lethbridge going the opposite direction than we needed to go.  When it was finally safe I pulled over and we scraped the mirrors, turned the rig around and headed towards Cardston, our destination for December.  The fog and the moisture was not necessarily a bad thing as it was the beginning of a chinook which was a nice break from the unbearable cold that we felt in Winterpeg.

We had decided to spend Christmas in the Cardston area and we were semi house bound until our jeep arrived. We had chosen to ship the jeep to Lethbridge rather than pull it behind the motorhome. Towing the extra weight would have added significantly to the fuel bill and after passing a few semitrailers in the ditch and another one upside down in a snow bank  around Kenora Ontario I was glad that we didn’t have the extra weight behind us.   The jeep was picked up by the shippers our last morning in Burlington but was scheduled to arrive in Lethbridge a few days after us.  While waiting for the jeep to arrive we stayed around my mothers acreage and basically just relaxed, taking it easy after the previous crazy weeks of tying up loose ends, packing, cleaning, and then driving half way across the country.

After a few days of hanging around the farm the shipping company notified us that the jeep was going to arrive in Lethbridge around 10 pm Thursday night.  At the scheduled time we went to the prearranged parking lot and waited and waited.  After waiting for what seemed like hours in a deserted parking lot in the middle of the night, a car hauler pulled in with our pile of mud loaded on it.  Every inch of the jeep was coated with at least 1/2 inch of salty sandy mud.   Windows, mirrors, doors, roof, tires, everything was covered with a thick layer of mud. I tried to scrape it off but it was futile. This mess needed a serious trip or two through a car wash.  I thought the motorhome got dirty on the drive over but it was nothing compared to the jeep.

Milk River, Whisky Gap AB

With the jeep we had some freedom to explore my childhood haunts.  Our first road trip was to Whiskey Gap.  Whiskey gap is approx 20 miles South East of Cardston. This is where I lived when we first moved to the Cardston area.  Back in the days of prohibition it was a booming town involved in illegal trade between Canadians and Americans and the natives of, you guessed it, whiskey.  Today its a ghost town.

Entering Waterton Park

Entering Waterton Park

Our next trip was to Waterton Park.  Waterton Park is one of my favorite places on earth and we went there a few times through the month to just hang out.  The townsite is deserted in the winter and the deer literally take over when the people are gone.

Everyone in Alberta gets their photo in front of these falls.”

"Brokeback" Mountain
Waterton Deer and “Brokeback” Mountain

The drive into Waterton is absolutely stunning.  Brokeback Mountain was filmed here. One of our trips into Waterton extended through to Pincher Creek and to the entrance of the Crowsnest Pass.

Pincher Creek is windmill central with literally hundreds of windmills surrounding the city.  Pincher is a perfect location to have windmills as the wind never stops blowing and its not just a breeze, its gale force winds, all the time.  The bad winds will be very apparent next month as we return with the motor home.

Just past Pincher Creek is the entrance to the Crowsnest Pass, the first pass through the Rocky Mountains.  We drove into Crowsnest Pass several miles to get a feeling for the road that we would eventually be travelling on our way to Vancouver Island.  It was encouraging to see the semi trailers coming though because I felt that if they could do it, I could do it as well.

Frank Slide, AB

Frank Slide, AB

Our only stop (besides Tim Hortons and A&W) on that day trip was Frank Slide.  Frank slide is very cool and kinda eerie at the same time.  It is a natural landslide off a mountain that covered part of the town of Frank in 1903.  To this day, the mountain continues to shift and it’s only a matter of time before the rest of the mountain comes down.  HUGE house sized boulders cover the area below the mountain – click the photo and check the size of the boulders next to the observation platform. Its interesting to see that in over a hundred years there is still almost no vegetation growing at all save a tree or two….weird.

While in Cardston we were able to attend some live shows and a few movies at the Carriage House Theatre.  Carriage House is a really neat community theatre in Cardston and Paul got a private tour back stage of the dressing rooms, the wardrobe areas, the green room,  and the props and sets storage areas. Travelling around the old stomping grounds was kinda fun and it was neat to see how things had changed since I had been there last, some places as long as 25 years ago.

The rest of the month was typical Christmas activities, reunions, eating, and eating some more.  Most importantly time was spent winding down from the past two months stressors of selling DeQuincy Gardens, packing and shipping and gearing up for the drive to the West Coast.

posted by Paul in The Trip and have Comment (1)

One Response to “Filling in the gaps: December in Cardston”

  1. guy gorilla says:

    thanks for the update, men!!..(what a cool place to have grown up!)

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